By BETH HARRIS, AP Game writer
Los Angeles (AP) – Don Sutton, a Hall of Fame pitcher who was a veteran of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation spanning the era of Sandy Kofax to Fernando Valenzuela, died on Tuesday. He was 75.
The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, said Sutton died in Rancho Mirage, California after a long struggle with cancer. The Atlanta Braves, for whom Sutton was a longtime broadcaster, said he died in his sleep.
A four-time All-Star, Sutton had a career record of 324-256 and an ERA of 3.26 while shooting again for the Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, California Angels and Dodgers in his final season.
The durable Sutton never missed a turn in the wake of 756 big league starts. Only Cy Young and Nolan Ryan started more than Sutton, who never appeared on the injury list in his 23-year career.
Adept at changing speed and pitch conditions, Sutton recorded just 20-win seasons but recorded 10 or more wins every year except 1983 and 1988. His win was accompanied by 58 shutouts, five were one-rudder and 10 were two-rudder. The right-hander ranks seventh on the career strike list with 3,574.
Sutton achieved the third all-time rank in the game and finished seventh in the innings (5,282 1/3). He worked in at least 200 innings in 20 of his first 21 seasons, interrupting his streak only in the strike-shortened 1981 season.
Daron wrote on Twitter, “He has worked as hard as anyone has done and he treated those people with great respect … and he gave me a lot of work.” “” For all these things, I am very grateful. “
Donald Howard Sutton was born on April 2, 1945, in Clio, Alabama, as the son of a sharecropper. The family relocated to North Florida, where Sutton was a three-sport star at High School, who showed an affinity for baseball as a youth. The Dodgers played the game in junior college before signing him as a free agent in September 1964, months before the first MLB draft.
Sutton secured a spot in the Dodgers’ rotation in 1966, after going 23-7 during a season in the minors. He made his big league debut as defending World Series champion on April 14, 1966, and earned his first win a few days later. .
Sutton quickly found himself in a rotation with Kofax, Don Drydell and Claude Osteen as the fourth starter. Sutton recorded 209 strikes that season, the most for a cheater since 1911.
He helped the Doggers win the National League Penitent in 1974, 1977 and 1978.
“Today we lost a great bowler, a great broadcaster and the most important person,” said Doggers president Stan Kastur. “I had the privilege of working with Don in both Atlanta and Washington, and we will always cherish the time we spend together.”
Sutton left the Dodgers as a free agent in 1980 and signed with Houston.
In 1982 a trade sent Sutton to the Brewers, where they pitched Milwaukee for their first American League Penetrant. He worked for his sixth postseason team with the AL West Champion Angels in 1986 and then returned to the Dodgers in 1988, retiring before the end of a season that saw him win the World Series.
Sutton was 4-1 with a 2.02 ERA in seven National League Championship Series games and 2-3 in eight World Series games. In the postseason for the Dodgers in 1974, he was 3–0 with a 1.50 ERA and 25 strikeouts in four matches.
He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. The Dodgers retired their number 20 the same year.
Former Dodgers and Braves pitcher, Alex Wood, wrote on Twitter, “2021 is just driving people crazy.” “My first few years with the Braves, being around Don every day was something that I would cherish forever. He really cared about everyone he talked to and was a repository of knowledge. Prayers for his family. “
During his long career in Southern California, Sutton took a stab at show business, appearing on the iconic game show, “Game Game”.
Sutton made a new career as a broadcaster after his playing days ended, spending almost exclusively with the Atlanta Braves.
He joined the Braves in 1989, when he was one of baseball’s worst teams, but had a national development through his trio of TBS superstations and broadcasters: Skip Carrey, Pete van Viren and Ernie Johnson Sr.
Sauton was part of the soundtrack for Atlanta’s worst-to-first season in 1991, dominating its 14 straight division titles and the 1995 World Series Championship. He called the Braves games on television and radio for seasons 28 to 30, interrupted by his move to the citizens of Washington in 2007. He returned to the Braves in 2009 and continued airing the game through the 2018 NL Division Series, when Atlanta lost to its longtime team, the Dodgers.
Shortly before the start of the next season, Sutton broke his left leg. He struggled with his recovery and never returned to the booth.
The Braves said they were “deeply saddened by the demise of our dear friend.”
“A generation of brave fans got to know his voice,” the team said in a statement. “Don gave an unmatched knowledge of the game and his sharp wit to his call. But despite all his success, Don never lost his generous spirit or humble personality.”
Sutton’s demise comes on the heels of seven Hall of Famers who died in 2020, the most sitting members of Cooperstown who died in a calendar year. They were Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kalin, Joe Morgan, Phil Nicaro, and Tom Sewer.
Sutton pitched for Dodgers Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda, who died on 7 January.
“Enough! #DonSutton such a classy man,” Johnny Bench, an inmate of the Reds Hall of Fame, wrote on Twitter, “a brilliant career not only in baseball but also in broadcasting. I’m so sad.”
In addition to his son, Sauton is survived by his wife, Mary, and daughters Stacy and Jackie.
AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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